Drinking 3.5 glasses per week significantly reduces the risk of heart attack

For many, having a glass of wine with dinner or having a drink with friends after work is an easy way to end the day. And while it’s clear that limiting your intake is essential, there may be a surprising benefit to participating in the occasional libation. In fact, a recent study found that having a few drinks could reduce the risk of a heart attack. Read on to see how much alcohol could lower your risk for cardiovascular disease.

RELATED: Eating This 4 Times A Week Reduces Risk Of Death From Heart Attack, Study Finds.


The latest research comes from a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology on October 28, during which a team of scientists hoped to gain a better understanding of the relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease. But since most of the existing research focuses on younger individuals, and binge drinking is largely linked to serious illness and death globally, the study’s authors wrote that they were “looking for to investigate the risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality associated with alcohol consumption in initially healthy, older people. “

To test their theory, the researchers used data from about 18,000 participants in the United States and Australia over the age of 70 who had no history of cardiovascular disease, a diagnosis of dementia, or a disability limiting their independence. We then asked each how much alcohol they consumed per week, establishing that a drink for American participants was considered to be 14 grams per serving and 10 grams for Australians. By US measurements, it was found that 18.6 of the participants did not ingest any alcohol each week; 37.3 percent said up to 3.5 glasses per week; 19.7 percent reported 3.5 to seven alcoholic drinks per week; 15.6% had 7 to 10 drinks per week; and 8.9 percent reported drinking more than ten alcoholic drinks per week.

When cross-analyzed with health data collected over a 4.7-year follow-up period, it was found that participants in the groups that drank 3.5 drinks, between 3.5 and seven drinks, and between seven and ten drinks of alcohol per week were at an overall reduced risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart attack, stroke, or heart failure compared to those who never drank alcohol. The results also held regardless of the gender of the participant.

A group of senior women sitting at a table drinking beer together

Although the results showed that moderate alcohol consumption overall reduced the risk of heart disease, they also revealed that there might be a specific number that could add years to your life. Indeed, data showed that the group who consumed 3.5 to seven drinks per week also saw a reduced risk of death for some reason compared to participants in the other groups.

The research team concluded that their findings “Moderate alcohol consumption in this group of healthy older adults was not harmful to [cardiovascular disease] or overall mortality “, Johannes neumann, MD, principal investigator of the study and cardiologist at Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Australia, said in a press release. “More research is needed to assess the causal biological effects of alcohol on health and the possible behavioral benefits of social consumption and engagement,” he added.

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An elderly couple raising their cocktails in a bar

While the study contains some interesting observations, the authors caution that they need to be placed in context. Neumann warned that the participants were healthy to start and may have had more physically and socially active lifestyles, while pointing out that alcohol consumption is also linked to other serious illnesses such as liver disease, pancreatitis and cancer.

“To get the positive benefits, you need to be a very moderate drinker on a continuous basis,” Deni Carise, PhD, scientific director of Recovery Centers of America, told Healthline. “A lot of people don’t drink that way.”

Happy senior man drinking a glass of red wine during lunch.  Old man tasting wine with friends in the background.  Close up of the face of an active and healthy senior man tasting wine.

But it’s not just about your heart health: other research has shown that limiting your alcohol intake can also improve your brain health and prevent dementia. A study published in BMJ in June 2018 followed 9087 participants, aged 35 to 55 at the start of the study, for 23 years. The results found that people who regularly drank more than 14 drinks in a seven-day period had higher rates of dementia than those who drank between one and 14 drinks per week.

The study authors also found that people who drank less than 14 glasses per week were more likely to drink wine, while those who drank more than 14 glasses per week were more likely to drink beer. “Overall, no evidence has been found that alcohol consumption between 1 unit / week and 14 units / week increases the risk of dementia,” the study authors explained.

However, increasing as little as one drink a day could skyrocket the likelihood of future cognitive impairment. The results revealed that among people who typically drank more than 14 drinks per week, the increase in that number from just seven drinks was linked to a 17% increase in the risk of dementia. An increase of seven weekly drinks was also associated with a higher risk of alcohol-related hospitalization among study participants.

RELATED: Drinking This Just Once Raises Your Risk of Heart Disease, Mayo Clinic Warns.

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